Good kitties. Bad Santa.
- It’s the Christmas season. (Check.)
- You’ve got a ton of shopping to do. (Check.)
- You take your three cats shopping with you. (Okay, we’ll skip that one.)
- You’ve just spotted that special, must-have, hard-to-find toy that’s on your list. (Check.)
- Then, Santa Claus comes along, steals the toys, and threatens you with a gun. (Maybe we’ll skip this one, too.)
That sort of shopping trip might sound unbelievable to you, but it’s all in a day’s living for sixty-two-year-old Beatrice Young, owner of the Cozy Cat Café in Ashbrook, New Hampshire, and the “sleuth lady” in The Santa Claws Bandit. (By the way, don’t call her the “sleuth lady.” She doesn’t appreciate it.) See, Beatrice and her cats—Hamish the Maine coon, Lucky the black cat, and Petunia the Himalayan—have a knack for finding trouble and solving local crimes. She has a certain amount of spunk that you’ve just got to love. Plus, she likes car chases, and what kind of sleuth lady shrinks from a good car chase?
As will be obvious to you from the book’s title and the content of this post so far, the action in Alannah Rogers' The Santa Claws Bandit takes place in the run-up to Christmas. Beatrice and her feline friends are busy enough dealing with regular life: filling Christmas orders at the café, shopping, rehearsing a very amateur production of A Christmas Carol (in which the cats have starring roles and the local sheriff plays Scrooge). Having Santa go on a crime spree really complicates things. Beatrice and her feline crew have plenty of help from the sheriff and from her ex-husband, Matthew, who is now her best friend, but how will they possibly distinguish the Santa Bandit from all the harmless mall Santas out there? And just what is the bad Santa up to, anyway?
All will be revealed, as they say, but not here. I will tell you that there are plenty of chuckles to be had in the play-rehearsal scenes (though I’m not sure why the sheriff is so touchy about playing opposite a cat in a little sweater; sounds perfectly normal to me). There is a climactic, if somewhat improbable, car chase that is also a lot of fun. And the relationship between Beatrice and Matthew is sweetly written in a way that makes you want to read the next book just to find out what happens between them. Seriously, Beatrice and Matthew are our favorite fictional couple-but-not-a-couple, if you know what I mean. And let’s not forget Hamish the Maine coon, who I might have a little crush on. Can't wait to see more of him...
A fun Christmastime read!